Saturday, August 8, 2015


Bambi premiered in London on this day in 1942.  It would be released in the US five days later.

Walt Disney's 5th animated feature film had a major set back in the aftermath of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.  Walt reported to work one morning to find that the government had commandeered the studio to use it as a new base.  Walt, ever the patriot, decided to work with them and allowed his studio to be used for whatever the country deemed fit.  The animators were well under way on their follow up to Dumbo.  Bambi was close on the heels of it's deadline, so Walt had made arrangements with the powers that be.  He agreed to create all of the training films and propaganda pieces that the military requested, so long as his animators were also free to finish their next film and any other shorts the studio needed to create to stay afloat.  It was the begining of a partnership, for better or worse that would span for much of the rest of the 40's.

It was a trick to keep his top animators on track in finishing up Bambi, as the generals on site only cared about the training films his other animators were creating.  Walt would give everyone projects for the military, and have them finish up Walt's animation on the down low.

The art direction on Bambi was to match the feeling of the novel the film was based on: "Bambi, A Life in the Woods" by Felix Salten.  The drawing styles used for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs felt much too cartoony for the subject matter.  Walt brought in instructors from Chouinard Art Institute, and regularly brought live animals for the animators to use as reference.

Background paintings were created under the art direction of Cantonese painter Tyrus Wong.  His beautifully delicate oil paintings gave the film the quasi realism it needed.

Bambi lost money during it's initial release.  It grossed just under the expense budget for the film.  With the limited European release due to the war, there just wasn't enough support by movie goers.  Fortunately, rereleases would assist the studio in regaining it's losses in subsequent years.

In 2008, the American Film Institute ranked Bambi 3rd place in the top 10 classically animated features.

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